N. Korea says it will suspend nuclear, missile tests

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the suspension of nuclear and ICBM tests went into effect Saturday.

The country says it’s making the move to shift its national focus and improve its economy.

The announcements came days before North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a border truce village for a rare summit aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang.

The North’s decisions were made in a meeting of the ruling party’s full Central Committee which had convened to discuss a “new stage” of policies.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Three Kansas militia members convicted of bombing plot

By Roxana Hegeman | Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. — Three Kansas militia members were convicted Wednesday of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees, an attack thwarted by another member of the group who tipped off federal authorities about escalating threats of violence.

Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen were convicted of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was convicted of a charge of lying to the FBI. Sentencing is set for June 27.

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the verdicts a significant victory against domestic terrorism and hate crimes.

“The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin,” Sessions said in a news release. “That’s not just illegal — it’s immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it.”

Defense attorneys declined to comment following the verdict.

The three men were indicted in October 2016 for plotting an attack for the day after the presidential election in the meatpacking town of Garden City, about 220 miles west of Wichita.

U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister told reporters that the jury’s verdicts represent “a victory for the rule of law and national security.”

Prosecutors have said that a fellow militia member, Dan Day, became alarmed by some of his colleagues’ threats and agreed to wear a wire as a paid informant. The government’s case featured months of profanity-laced recordings in which militia members discussed plans and referred to the Somalis as “cockroaches.”

“That confidential source is also to be commended for doing the right thing and the courage …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Analysis: Trump can’t stop raising the bar for N. Korea success

By David Nakamura | Washington Post

PALM BEACH, Fla. – President Donald Trump has been upping the ante for his planned meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, increasing the pressure on his administration to deliver results on an issue that has vexed his predecessors but that Trump has now embraced as his signature foreign policy initiative.

Although it remains unclear when and where the summit will take place, Trump spent much of his two-day conference here with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week boasting about the historic moment and ruminating on what could be achieved.

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With Abe seated next to him at Mar-a-Lago, his gilded retreat, Trump told reporters that negotiators from North and South Korea were already at work discussing ways to bring a formal end to the Korean War, after the 1953 armistice left the divided peninsula in a perpetual state of tension. He cast the move as an appropriate appetizer for the banquet of denuclearization talks to follow.

“They have my blessing,” Trump, the self-proclaimed master dealmaker, declared. Later at a news conference with Abe, who remains wary of the sudden thaw in relations, Trump described his upcoming encounter with Kim as “a historic moment and possibly beyond that, if it works out properly.”

What has emerged in recent days is that Trump the president, who has elevated North Korea’s nuclear threat to his top foreign policy priority, is facing increasing pressure to deliver tangible results from his high-risk gambit, while Trump the showman, who is obsessed with ratings and scorecards, continues to elevate the bar of what is possible.

“We’ve gone from uncertainty about whether this summit will happen to greatly heightened expectations,” …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


President Bush greets mourners honoring the late first lady

By Juan A. Lozano and John L. Mome | Associated Press

HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush greeted some of the hundreds of mourners filing through a large Houston church on Friday to pay final respects to his wife of 73 years, former first lady Barbara Bush.

A spray of dozens of pink and yellow roses covered her closed, light-colored metallic casket in the sanctuary of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. The 93-year-old former president arrived shortly after a daylong public viewing began, sitting in a wheelchair nearby and smiling as people shook his outstretched hand and offered condolences.

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Barbara Bush died on Tuesday at age 92 at the couple’s Houston home, where her husband also by her side.

Many women wore blue, Barbara Bush’s favorite color, and pearls, a nod to her go-to neckwear jewelry. Officials say about 1,600 people had come through the church in about the first hour after going through security checks and boarding shuttle buses to travel a few miles to the nation’s largest Episcopal church.

Lucy Orlando was among more than 100 people in line well before bus service began, after traveling from Florida. Originally from Haiti, the 74-year-old said had admired Barbara Bush for years, including for her work promoting literacy.

“She was a very sweet lady and she loves people,” said Orlando, who was carrying a gray suitcase containing framed photos of the couple and members of their family, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura.

Varney Johnson, a 49-year-old local social worker originally from Liberia, said he also came to honor the former first lady’s work in supporting literacy efforts, saying: “This woman …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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